January 1, 2020 is right around the corner. And for those of us in Illinois, some of us may be looking forward to lighting up more than just fireworks to ring in the new year.
Beginning on January 1, 2020, Illinois will become the eleventh state to legalize cannabis for recreational use by adults over the age of 21.
Even though it will be legal statewide to purchase and consume cannabis products beginning in 2020, some of the more specific laws fleshing out the details of this new rollout are still in development –and the ones that do exist are subject to amendment.
There is a ton of grey area around the details of cannabis use. Consequently, there is a lot of room for confusion about where people can use and purchase cannabis products, what constitutes being under the influence, how testing for being under the influence will shake out, etc..
Underneath the cloud of confusion is a very important question:
Can I lose my job for using marijuana?
Unfortunately, at the time this is being written, the answer to that question is: “It depends on the circumstances”.
Currently, there is a large legal debate around the reconciliation of Illinois’ new marijuana laws with Illinois employment laws, which allow companies to maintain zero-tolerance drug policies. And, today, there are a few scenarios where a positive THC drug test can cost you your job.
Before you go out and indulge on January 1, here are some things to consider when it comes to job searching and keeping your job in the new year:
In Illinois, if you decide to add marijuana use to your lifestyle, know that you aren’t doing anything illegal starting 1/1/20, but it may prohibit you from working at your dream company
Know Your Employer’s Drug Policy
If a company has Federal Contracts or is subject to following the Department of Transportation or Federal Aviation Regulations, it will be mandated to following Federal Laws regarding drug screening. “The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40 – does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs…for any reason.” 1
And federally, guess what is considered a Schedule I substance?
You guessed it: marijuana.
In Illinois, if you decide to add marijuana use to your lifestyle, know that you aren’t doing anything illegal starting 1/1/20, but it may prohibit you from working at your dream company.
Furthermore, even if a company is not obligated to comply with these federal mandates, Illinois employers can still choose to maintain a "reasonable zero-tolerance drug policy".
On December 4th, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed amendments to clarify workplace drug testing; the amendment states, “employers may continue conducting reasonable and nondiscriminatory pre- and post-hiring and random drug tests for marijuana.”2 This means that Illinois companies can still test and require a negative result for drug use (including THC) as part of their pre-employment / on-boarding process, random employee testing, or for reasonable suspicion of use on the job –even after January 1. 2
If You Are Currently Employed
Even if you work for a company that has updated its 2020 drug policies, it is important to know that your employer’s 2020 policies may prohibit a person from being under the influence of cannabis while at work or on-call. Employers can also prohibit cannabis possession while on work premises or while performing job duties. 3
be sure you stay educated on the federal, state, county and municipal laws that apply to your situation, so that you can make the best decision possible for you and your 2020 career goals
Using CBD Products
People use cannabis products for a variety of reasons. For those who want to partake in the alleged benefits of these products but are concerned with a positive THC result on a drug test, CBD products might seem like an alternate solution.
One would think that they would be able to work for any company in Illinois because CBD use means you can’t test positive for THC, right?
So What Does This Mean?
There have already been two major amendments to Illinois'Cannabis Law since being signed in June of 2019, and it seems like new information is being communicated about it daily. If you’re in Illinois, before you decide to indulge in any of the cannabis products on the market, be sure you stay educated on the federal, state, county and municipal laws that apply to your situation, so that you can make the best decision possible for you and your 2020 career goals.
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